Monday, 21 March 2016

A quick over view of the TA and the bike and gear I used

When I first became aware of the Tour Aotearoa, I thought that would be awesome thing to do but I didn't commit to it straight away. I have never really done too much cycle touring or bike packing and I really didn't know how my body and  certain parts of my body would deal with it. It would be a massive commitment by myself and my family for me to do this event. I was probably my partner Susanne that in the end said just do it if it is something you really want to. So that was that I made my donation the NZ kidney society due to loosing my Dad to Kidney failure a couple of years ago. I know he would been very proud of me and would have loved following me on the web if he could have figured out how to use the website (a late starter with technology). I received an email and I was in, the third wave on the 24th Of February. Thankfully there were months and months until then and there a lot of time spent on finding out what gear I wanted and needed.
I also built the bike from the ground up that I rode in the TA not finishing it until November, I never really rode it for anywhere near the durations that I encountered on the Tour Aotearoa the longest ride I did on this particular bike was about 5 hours. In the end the bike was incredible, I never had a puncture and the Maxxis Treadlite tyes I used were great. The rear is showing signs of wear but still has life left in it yet. I will probably transfer it to the front and the front tyre that basically has no signs of wear to the rear. I never had any form of mechanical issues either, I had a dream run in that respect. The 1 x 11 Sram set up was faultless and for me the best gearing set up that I could imagine. The WTB Volt saddle served me incredibly well, not 100% with out discomfort at times but I don't know if any seat would be over that sort distance and varied terrain. The Lauf Fork is an incredible yet simple bicycle component that does exactly what it is meant to, 60mm of travel with no maintenance required. I have ridden rigid forks and still do on my rigid 29er SS and I  know that this fork truly helped the comfort, fatigue and fun factor of my Tour Aotearoa. In regards to my other gear which I have listed in a previous blog I can not fault one thing. My best finds were the intents tent from Trademe for $89 (a single wall, 3000mm waterproof tent, weighing about 730grams with the main pole).
Actually I didn't find this, so thanks Marcel Hagener . My other kit favorite was my Sea to Summit Ultrasil 20 litre dry pack, this was very useful for buying extra supplies for the end of the day/night and morning when you couldn't fit them in you bike bags. When it's not in use it stuffs down to nothing in size and only weighs 90 grams.

I can't wait to use all of this again I just don't know when that will be as I sit here writing this blog. The Tour Aotearoa was an amazing experience one that is an absolute highlight in my life so far and I am sure this is the same for everyone that took part in the TA. I have to thank Susanne and my daughter Zania for always making it possible for me to do the things I love, It would all mean so much less without you by my side.

A huge thanks has to go out to Jonathan and any one that was involved in any part of the Tour Aotearoa, we are all very lucky and maybe we will be the only riders that will have done this in an organised event. That is officially a wrap from me:-)

I had to get to Christchurch somehow

I woke up at 9am after only having about 4 1/2 hours sleep, Andy was up and packing up. I started to do the same and we talked about our families and getting home from here. The first step was get back to Invercargill and the only way was to bike. Andy left whilst I was still packing up but I soon followed suit, Andy didn't get far maybe 600m as I saw his bike outside a café. I carried on in a rather meaningless manner and rather slow I was keen to get to Invercargill but the body and mind where not able to do much anymore. The wind was in y face and now it started to rain, it maybe took me 1 and 1/4 hours to bike just 22km, I was wet, hungry and didn't want to ride my bike anymore. I stumbled across Tuatara backpackers, which also had what looked to be a pretty good café attached. I went in and ordered a full breakfast and a coffee and whilst I was waiting I enquired about a room and if they had it available now. I was 11am and I was incredibly grateful when she said yes and that I could have it now for the normal rate. The breakfast was as good as it gets and I would highly recommend this café. I headed off to my room, had a shower, washed and dried my clothes and went to the super market to keep me going for the day, then I actually had what I like to call a Nana nap mid afternoon which was just what I needed. I had sent out a Facebook post if there were any TA riders that wanted to catch up for dinner and I had a reply from Seb Dune whom along with Ollie Whalley were the next fastest riders, I had suggested the Lone Star so I was really looking forward to that. In the mean time I had decided to continue with something That I had vaguely planned for after the Tour Aotearoa and that was to bike all of or at least some of the way back to Christchurch. So it was back to the super market for more supplies and a bit of gear packing for departure tomorrow if I felt like it in the morning. Dinner with Seb was great and it was great to hear about is trip and also a bit of insight into some of the other riders as at times there were quite a few of them together or leap frogging each other. we also talked about Seb's Tour Divide experience's which was also great as this is something I had and still are contemplating. I woke up the next morning Sunday the 6th and I decided hat I would start biking back to Christchurch, I definitely didn't rush and left Invercargill around 8am. One of the reason I was getting back on the bike was because I had never been to the Catlins  before and I didn't have to be anywhere until the coming Saturday. The wind was very friendly to me this day and it made the riding pretty easy, I guess I was just skimming the surface of the Catlins really and would need days and days to explore it properly but I still thoroughly enjoyed riding through there.
Best looking but the most expensive
 Mochachinno of my trip
He is the culprit for the expensive coffee


Tautuku Bay

Purakaunui Falls

I cycled about 225k through to lake Waihola about 30kms south of Dunedin this day and I really enjoyed staying in the camp ground, having a shower and using the kitchen it really made life easy compared to my nights in the TA. It was quite hard to actually accept taking the days a bit easier, starting later, finishing earlier and not cycling with quite the same meaning, it really felt quite strange. The next day I had planned to get to Naesby via the Rail trail from Middlemarch, it started off well but the climb up to Middle march was hard, super hard. I felt I needed so cooked food to get me going and I was hoping at Clarks Junction there was something open. Well Clarks Junction is really just a road junction but lucky for me there was a classical Kiwi pub there and they were open. It was about 10am and in I went, it stank of alcohol, there were dead flies on the window soils and then a guy came from behind the bar in his dressing gown. Then his wife came out (that is what I presumed anyway) this seems liked a completely different world to what I knew. They were friendly and I asked if they were serving hot food. The lady gave me the menu and I chose to go for the cooked breakfast, two hash browns, two pieces of toast, two pieces of bacon two fried eggs and a choice of spaghetti or baked beans. The meal came out and it was huge, I had chosen the spaghetti and it must have been a whole 400gram can of good kiwi tinned spaghetti and all of this for only $10.50 who needs the upmarket café at $20 for much less. Naseby was my destination and I knew it well, over 20 years ago I had competed in the south Island Cup MTB round that was held here both in cross country and downhill, oh how down hill has change. I wouldn't be doing any riding in the forrest though, that was for sure. Another 200km day and another night in the tent. I started early the next day just because I couldn't sleep anymore, I was headed for Danseys  Pass and Duntroon,
 I had also cycled this 20 years Ag and I remembered well the pat to the top but it was much further out to Duntroon than I remembered all in a great gravel roped ride. I arrived in Timaru mid afternoon and spotted a $5 pizza sign and that sounded pretty good.

I have always been very sceptical of the deals from Dominos and Pizza hut but I have the say the Pizza form Pizza hut was great and it fuelled me onto Geraldine which was going to be my last night in the tent. I met about 4 other cycle tours here and one of them knew about the TA and we talked quite a bit about that but also about there trip and general cycling. I really enjoyed Geraldine and the Top10 holiday park is the best camp I stayed in, they had pots, pans plates etc for use in the kitchen where as most campgrounds in NZ these days have done away with all of that. I had to go to Barkers for my daughter and buy her favourite Raspberry jam and I got tempted and bought a Morrello Cherry Jam for Susanne and I. I no longer cared about the weight that I was carrying and enjoyed being able to get this from the source.

Again I couldn't sleep so I was on the road early headed for Ashburton and then Christchurch via as many back roads as possible. There are plenty of these around this area, some are gravel and some are sealed. After Ashburton I headed down the Selwyn Rakaia road which is unsealed, it was a head wind and at some point I had had enough and just wanted to get back to Christchurch so I went back to the main Highway until Rolleston. I met a friend Rupert in Rolleston a fellow Brevet rider and adventure racer that was keen to hear about the TA I really enjoyed the coffee and chat so thanks Rupert. It was a only a short trip back to Christchurch form here, but the good old Eagerly had come out to welcome me, it really didn't have too. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip back to Christchurch,  it was actually a good way to wind down after the TA rather than to just stop. I cycled to Spot NZ and hand delivered my tracker and they loved the fact that I had biked it back to them from Bluff and so did I actually. I haven't been on the bike since but I have been for a couple of runs in this time, the first in about 8-9 weeks and they hurt but I need to keep this up as I can't stop eating like I was on the TA. I am looking forward to getting back on the mountain bike though and blasting around some trails with no extra weigh attached to the bike. I also can't wait to my next touring/bike packing adventure but I have no idea when this will be. Maybe the Tour Divide, I am seriously intrigued by the Tour Divide and have read a book and watched the DVD, it is a bit daunting the distant, altitude, bears and possible temperatures but who know maybe one day.........

So that is my story and I promise that will be it from me, no more posts for quite some time. Until then I look forward to reading some other stories and hopefully will meet some of you out the there in New Zealand's wonderful and beautiful play ground.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

The wrong side of Haast Pass to Bluff, the final push.

The morning again started in the dark with my alarm going off at 4.45am,  I had very little food on board so I packed up and ate something small on the bike trying to ration it to last as long as I could. I was a little concerned where I would be able to get some more but had to just keep going for now. It wasn’t long before I went through the Gates of Haast and onto the main climb, I felt alright heading up to the Pass and again took a terrible photo due to the darkness and it only being around 6.20am.

 I tried and tried again for a good photo but it was just no good.

From here I was struggling with a real lack of energy due to the lack food, it was seriously hard work mentally and physically across the top to Makarora. I really hoped that the Makarora café would be open and then I thought to myself that Makarora is in the middle of nowhere really. So I really doubted that they would be open at 7am when I was likely to arrive.  I arrived there at 7.10am and I was right, they did not open until 8 but they were inside getting ready for their day ahead. I knocked and knocked on the door but they didn't seem to hear me and I actually wondered they were ignoring me but it turns out they just couldn’t hear me. So I went around the back and entered the kitchen and introduced myself and explained what I was doing and that I really needed some food. They were incredibly friendly and generous and told me to take a seat. I bought two big pieces of homemade carrot cake a big piece of homemade Banana cake (two of my favourite cakes that I also love to bake). A can of Coke as Coffee was not an option at this moment and they made me a fresh sandwich which was delicious. I ate the sandwich, a piece of carrot cake, the banana cake and drank the can of coke. I felt so much better after this and flew around the head of lake Wanaka to the saddle to between  Lake Wanaka and Hawea. It was actually still quite a way to Hawea and I was running out of water now, the one thing I forgot at Makorora. Once at Hawea I was going to go to the petrol station to get some water but thought there would be another option just up the road but there wasn’t as I soon turned onto the Hawea River track. This was a nice track following the river and bit further down I came across the Hawea wave and there was someone surfing on it, cool.
They also have a similar thing in the heart of Munich which I saw a few years back and always thought that this was pretty awesome. Continuing on the trail and over another great NZ cycle trails bridge which soon lead onto the Lake Wanaka Outlet track and then Wanaka. I was looking forward to civilization again and the delights that it offers, first stop was the first café I saw, Relishes Café. After I had ordered eggs benedict with Bacon I went next door to racers edge to get my small bottle of chain oil topped up, just enough to get me to Bluff. They were incredibly unhelpful actually, they would only sell me a complete bottle rather that sell me 20mls for $5 or so. I walked out of there and I thought that this is a shop I will never visit again nor recommend. Mt attitude soon changed as I sat down to a wonderful breakfast, a great coffee and even better service. Next thing a rider from wave one that had already finished Kevin Moginie arrived with his family, I didn’t know if they intentionally came to find me or if it was a random meeting. Either way it was great to meet them  and be part of their enthusiasm, we talk about what lay ahead for me to the finish line at Bluff. From here I am actually blaming Kevin or maybe I should thank Kevin for what happened on my  to Bluff. Kevin told me that it had taken him 4 ½ hours to get to Queenstown  and that it had taken him 21 hours to get to bluff with his 6 hour mandatory break.  I didn’t think about this too much at the time and headed off to the New World for supplies to keep me going to Bluff. I still needed chain oil so I went to Outside sports just across the road and they directed me around the corner to their bike shop. I parked the bike outside and as I entered they instantly knew what that I was a TA rider. Did I really smell and look that bad, it had only been 1 and a half days and 430km since my last shower. One of the guys in the shop said “this man looks like he was in a hurry, how can we help”  I need some chain lube please, He instantly filled it up my small bottle and never asked fo a cent. What difference in customer service and I can’t thank them enough so if you need a bike shop in Wanaka, Outside sports in my pick. Finally on my way after about an hour in Wanaka and I soon I had to stop again to strip down to just my cycle top and shorts as it had really warmed up now. The ride up to the Cardrona Hotel went by pretty quick tail wind and a very mild uphill nature that I didn't really notice. 
It is not until after the Cardrona hotel in the last few kilometres that it kicks up but still not too bad in my eyes. At the top I took in the views and tried to call the Water taxi to arrange a boat to a Walter Peak, no phone service here so down the hill for about 1km and I tried again. This time it worked and I tried to book for 3.15-3.30pm, they said could I make it there for 3pm, I said I would try my best. I actually doubted I could make it there by then so I called the Earnslaw about their 4pm sailing and left my name. The downhill was fast and I was loving it, unfortunately the route was not all the way to the bottom via the main road and I turned off onto Glencoe road which soon turned into a gravel road. Onto Tobins track which was actually part of the Motutapu event that was happening the next day., this was a great little downhill to the Arrow River. Following the river downstream from here and continuing on the Queenstown trail to the Kawerau River where I crossed underneath the main highway and around into Frankton. It was obvious now that I would not make it to Queenstown for the water Taxi and they actually called me as I was about to call them. I instantly called the Earnslaw to confirm that I would be there for their 4pm sailing. I set off and I was now really looking forward to the trip on the historical Earnslaw. After that call I thought that I would be in Queenstown early enough to visit the world famous Ferg Burger and that put  a serious smile on my face that was for sure. The trail seemed to go on and on and it was looking less and less likely that I would make it in time for a Ferg Burger, that soon wiped the smile off my face. Once in Queenstown I was still seriously tempted for a Ferg Burger and took my chance, there wasn’t much of a queue but given I only had about 7 minutes I couldn't risk not getting on the Earnslaw even for a Ferg Burger. The Ferg Bakery next door was the next best thing so another pie (Pork and apple) and a spicy salami baguette. Once at the Earnslaw there were about 5 other TA riders and they were having a discussion with the captain. He was not going to let us on the boat as they do not normally take bikers on the 4pm sailing due to them now being able to get to the first camp site. I guess they don’t want to be responsible for people camping on private farm land? Any was we are not normal bikers and it seemed there had been a prior agreement to let TA riders on the 4pm sailing but the communication may have never made it to this Captain. I quickly paid for my ticket and I was the last on board.
Pie gone, Baguette consumed and now it was time for a coffee and a giant cooking on board. I really enjoyed being on the Historical Earnslaw and sitting with the other riders and talking about our trips so far. The trip seemed shorted than 45 minutes when we arrived at the beautiful Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Straight on to the bike and again I was soon riding solo. I recalled the conversation with Kevin in Wanaka and I had started to think that it might be possible to get to Bluff  by 3am tomorrow. Which is the time that I would have to start my mandatory 6 hour break before 9am. The wind was a reasonably strong Northerly to Norwester and  this made the first section following around the lake in a westerly direction quite hard. But I knew from my GPS that I would soon be heading south, Yeehaa now I was flying with the wind behind me, once over the only really climb it was generally downhill all the way to bluff. This was really fuelling me to make it to Bluff  in one hit from here, I was eating  incessantly both due to hunger but also knowing I was going to need the fuel to make it to bluff. The gravel roads were awesome and you could find a nice smooth spot to ride on, I was constantly on my Aero bars doing close to 40km/h at times. I kept thinking to me self I am going to make it. Onto the Mountains to Sea cycle trail to Mossburn and it was now around 9pm and dark, I filled my water bottles at the public toilets as no shops seemed to be open. Somewhere on this section to Invercargill we had to take a photo of a southland local, I really didn't like my chance now that I had left Mossburn and was in the middle of nowhere really after 9pm. But strangely enough someone pulled up beside me in a car and started talking to me and asked me if I was doing the Tour Aotearoa. He drove beside me for a couple of minutes and I completely forgot about the photo. From here I really had no Idea where I was, it was dark and I was just following the pink line on my GPS. There was at least one climb in here that seemed much longer and hard than I am sure it really was if you were to look at the altitude profile. I still believed that I could make it to Bluff in time but it was going to be tight. About 30km out of Bluff I turned on to the cycle trail that runs through the Estuary and is part of the Te Aroroa Trail. Up until here I really thought I could make it to Bluff by 3am but after turning this way and that on this shingle trail I was starting to doubt it. Finally out onto the main road to Bluff and it was maybe 2.30am, with the wind in my face and time quickly ticking away I soon came to the realization that I would not make it by 3am. But I decided that there was NO WAY I was going to stop now less than 15km away from Bluff for this rule that stated we must stop for 6 hours a day. I thought I  along with others had already broken the "no less than 10 day" rule and that once in Bluff that was it! So on I went and finally arrived at the Sign post at Sterling Point in Bluff around 3.45am on Saturday the 5th of March.
It was a serious anti climax, it was cold, I was knackered and there was no one to share this moment with. But I was incredibly happy with what I had achieved, what I had seen, the people I had met and for being a part of the Tour Aotearoa over the last 10 days, well actually months and months really. I had just cycled about 430km in 22 hours straight to complete the Tour Aotearoa (3010km spanning the length of NZ) completely by myself in 9days, 13hours and 14 minutes or so. I was pretty sure that I was the fasted rider of the Tour Aotearoa even if you add my theoretical 6 hour rest onto my time. I had achieved what I set out to do and I was incredibly satisfied. Right now though I needed to find somewhere to sleep for the night, I thought I passed a camping ground a couple of kilometres back, so I biked back and yes it was. I looked  for place to call home for a while and found another TA rider who was obviously well and truly asleep by now. I started to pitch my tent beside him and I am really sorry for waking you up Andy Beale but it was a pleasure to meet you and share my finishing with you and I believe also for Andy a moment to share his finishing of the Tour Aotearoa with me, as he had finished at 11.30pm the night before. I had a shower and quickly fell asleep in my little tent that had mainly been home for the last 10 days.

Hokitika to halfway up Haast Pass, Day 9

Hotcross buns, a banana and instant coffee for breakfast and trying to be quiet at 4.45am so not to wake the others staying at River View Cottages. 5.20am and time to get back out there, first stop was the Hokitika clock tower for a quick photo in the dark yet again.
Onto the back roads for about 5km to the start of the Mahinapua Walkway and as I was getting close to the start of the track there was what I though was a bike light coming towards me and it was. It belonged to Russel Shanks from wave two, I am not sure why he was coming towards me, maybe he had only just missed the track? Anyway we entered the track together and had a bit of a chat, he said that he had no idea where he would get to today, he seemed rather tired and we soon parted ways. The track was not that nice to ride really as it was very corrugated so I pretty much stood up most of the way through here you no why. I was actually pleased to get back onto the tarseal and at some point the route actually headed North back towards Hokitika for a couple of kilometers, this felt completely wrong but soon enough I was heading south again and on my way to Ross. A combination of shingle roads and seal from here to Lake Ianthe where I took a passing photo.
I knew from previously riding down here that it would be pretty much on the main highway and I was trying not to think about what lay ahead. I stopped in Harihari for a coffee and yet another pie and bought some bananas as well. Getting ready to leave I chatted to some travelers from  Gisbourne that new what I was up to and said that I seemed to be travelling pretty light compared to the others they had already met on their trip. I took this as a compliment and I set off, another quick stop in Whatoroa for the call of nature and on I went. It was a pretty uneventful 40km or so to Franz Joseph and I was pleased to get there and have a bit of a break. Off to the Four Square for more supplies and lunch, pizza bread, beir sticks and a tomato or two. I knew from here that there were a good couple of climbs before getting to Fox Glacier which was my next photo stop, the climb's to Fox were reasonably steep but not too long. Once in Fox I filled my water bottles, ate another Almond Magnum and headed for the Glacier on the new track for walkers and cyclist. I have been to the Glacier several before and walked up to the Glacier so I just took my photo for the start of the walkway.
Now it was downhill back to the highway and It would be tarseal for the rest of the day. At some point on this next section I felt pretty cooked, it was hot and I was not feeling that great both mentally and physically. I stopped at the side of the to eat something and there was a small creek that I used to throw water over my head and face. I probably sat here for about 20 minutes, it was around 3pm and I needed to get going again as I still planned to get much further along this journey.

I was still struggling and now I was running out of choices of food, I really though I had bought enough at Franz Joseph to fuel me for the day. I checked the shops and water spreadsheet that someone had put together for the TA, The Pinegrove Hotel didn't seem to be there any more so I was really looking forward to the Salmon Café. It was now about 5pm and they were closed, not much I could do but keep on cycling to Haast and make do with the little food I had. I finally made it to Knights Point (they should call it sandfly point) and Took my Mandatory photo.
For some strange reason I decided it would be a good idea to eat something here and re organise my bags. Bad Idea this is not a place you want to hang out in thanks to the sandflies. It was incredible how quickly the find a piece of bare skin and not just one, 10 or more on every patch they could find, at least I killed a few. I got out of there as quick as I could in the end and onto the last stretch to Haast and the chance for a cooked meal. It was about 35km from here and I couldn't wait, I got to Haast around 7.15pm and as I was desperate for food so I went too the first hotel I saw at the turn off to Jacksons bay. I ordered a meal, Garlic bread and a glass of coke. Whilst I was waiting I filled up my drink bottles and got the bike and any gear ready to continue from here. I didn't know if there was anywhere else to buy food (I should have checked the TA notes) so I bought a bag of potato chips and a couple of Mars bars for later. I took my time here as I was really feeling the last  two and a half thousand kilometers. I ate my meal, and chatted to some Australians that were on a two week holiday in NZ. It was now about 8.30pm and it was time to leave, about 2km up the road if that, the route led me through the main Haast settlement. I was kicking my self as there was much more on offer but the On the Spot convenience store was now closed. On I went into the night and I had no Idea where I would get to but planned to cycle to 11pm. It felt like I was moving pretty slow now but I managed to cycle about 40km to just before Pleasant flat (I only found that out in the morning) I found a spot down off the side of the road and pitched my tent and instantly fell asleep. It had been another long day about 17 1/2 hours and I had cycled about 325km I was glad this day was over.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Maruia to Hokitika, Day 8

Again this day started in darkness, Breakfast of a banana and a Muesli bar and I was already looking forward to a cooked breakfast in Reefton at Broadwood Café. Back up to the highway and onto Maruia Township, which isn’t much by the way, soon it was over to the other side of the Maruia river and down Maruia West bank road. This was a nice gravel road undulating alongside the Maruia River pretty much all the way to Springs Junction. Once at Springs Junction I went to the shop just to get my water bottles filled and they were very obliging. On my way again and I could smell the breakfast at Reefton and I couldn't  wait, the climb up and over the Rahu saddle wasn’t too bad and what goes up must come down all the way to Reefton. My Mum was staying in the Reefton camp ground as she was on a caravan trip around the South Island, so I popped in and told her I was heading for the Broadwood Café for a long awaited breakfast.
I ordered the full breakfast and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed as I had eaten here before, a Mochacinno straight away please and a cappuccino with the breakfast. I also got tempted by the huge Hotcross buns sitting in the prime spot on the counter so I bought four of those for later. I found a table outside and started drying a little bit of wet gear in the morning sun. My Mum arrived and we
sat down and chatted about her trip and mine. She told me she was really enjoying following the TA online and told me about some of the other riders she had met on her travels. The breakfast was amazing and I highly recommend the Broadwood Café if you are ever in or passing through Reefton. It was time to bid Mum farewell and hit Big River. I was looking forward to this ride as I had pictured it in my head to be one of the most actual Mountain Biking sections of the TA along with the Bridge to Nowhere and it
did not disappoint. I loved the ride up Big River climbing up through the forest; it was nice to be in the shade as it was now 11am and pretty warm. I loved the remoteness of where I was and I didn’t see a soul through here, I went up and checked out the Big river hut, a pity I wasn’t here at night as I love staying in Doc huts, next time.

This is not the DOC hut:-)

Back onto the route and the Waiuta walking track, luckily for me it was reasonably dry through here so most of the track was rideable a nice challenging track with a loaded up bike but still lots of fun. Out to Waiuta and a quick stop to take in the views and a few photos.

My sister actually lives pretty much at the junction of Waiuta road and State Highway 7 so popped up to her house to say hi but I wasn’t expecting her to be there as it was about 3pm and she should be at work and she was. Back onto the route, I knew this section exactly down to Greymouth as I had ridden it before on a 7 day Bike packing trip a few years back. This section was pretty uneventful really apart for the wind that was in my face.  Then as I was  getting close to Greymouth I heard a toot of a horn and it was my Sister, she had finished work in Greymouth for the day and she tracked me down using the Map Progress site. We had a quick chat, maybe 5 minutes if that. This was a great day so far seeing my Mum and now my Sister, thank you so much; it really lifted my spirits to know you were there with me literally and virtually. Upon reaching Greymouth it was straight to the super market for much of the same as always. The Warehouse was my next stop as my Mum had told me a story about one of the riders being cold whilst camping and not having enough gear. So I had decided to buy something to keep me warm just incase, as I had been border line a couple of times and I was always slightly concerned about this in the South Island. I bought a Polypro top and a pair of women’s leggings (they were the cheapest option, truly).
The Infamous Greymouth Bar
There were some keen surfers out there on the otherside of the Bar, it must have been freezing in the water, crazy if you ask me but it is all relative to what you familiar with. Most people would call the TA riders crazy and we probably are. From here it was onto the West Coast wilderness trail all the way to Hokitika about 100 kilometres. I was whizzing down through here but you definitely need to be aware of other users. At Kumara I stopped outside the pub to make a call to some accommodation in Hokitika I rang Riverview cottages the woman asked how desperate I was for a room as she was actually closed tonight ( I explained what I was doing and that I would not arrive until about 11pm. She said that is all fine and to just leave the $55 payment on the table inside the room.
There was a TA rider inside the pub presumably having a meal and I checked the tracking site as I knew there were a few riders through here somewhere, I set off and was soon back onto the Wilderness trail, this was nice riding and not a track I had ridden on before. Although I had ridden on the Old Christchurch road through to Hokitika before and also Milltown road from Lake Kaniere to the Wainihinihi River out to the Otira Highway so I knew the area a little bit. At about 4 kilometres out from Cowboys Paradise, there were signs up saying road close take the high water route. There was even a locked gate across the road, I was really unsure of what to do here but I decided to stick to the GPS route and slipped around the side of the gate. After the roads/track works that they were doing, the track descended down into the Wainihinihi Gorge and it was really enjoying riding it. It was obviously dark now, maybe around 9pm and I got to Cowboys Paradise, it looked awesome with the cabins old style and there were TA’ers bikes leaned up against the rail where you would expect to see a horse tied up. The restaurant or Saloon was all lit up and I could see the riders, maybe 6 of them sitting down at a big table, probably eating a great meal and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I was seriously jealous and very tempted to go in but my bed was calling so on I went continuing on the track to Milltown Road. I have since spoken to some friends that have been to Cowboys Paradise and it is somewhere I definitely want to visit with my family and hopefully we will this year. From Milltown Road I thought I knew it pretty well but it took a bit longer that I thought to get to Lake Kaniere where I met a rider that was just setting up camp for the night at around 10pm, I carried onto the water race trail which I had ridden and ran several times before. The track had been seriously upgraded to cater for all abilities but it was still very nice riding, I was really enjoying this section and I got a bit carried away and just about had a crash. I couldn’t wait to get to the Riverview cottages,   a short road ride and I was there, the woman had told me that she had no other guests as she was meant to be closed and to just choose any room. I went to try one room but the door was locked and then I heard some voices; there was actually someone in there, I wonder what they were thinking? When I checked my phone later the owner had sent me a text to inform me that room 1 and 2 was occupied, ooops. I settled in had a shower and it was straight to sleep, another big day, 1about 17 hours on and off the saddle and about 280 kilometres with a lot of that off road.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Ashhurst to Maruia, Day 6 and 7

In the morning I pretty much wore everything I had as it was cold and still raining, again I left in the dark and onto the main Highway but it wasn’t for long. Onto the Manawatu River Trail which pretty much lead to Palmerston North. Once reaching the outskirts of Palmy (as I like to call it) I headed back towards town to find some food. The first place was a BP with a Wild Bean Café in store, I ordered a coffee and bought a pie, I think it was Bacon and Egg and when that was gone I went to get another one but I had just eaten the last so Butter Chicken was the next choice. I don’t normally eat pies but they went down a treat but it was hard to get started again, at least the rain had stopped. Eketahuna was the next stop for a few supplies and another pie was consumed as well as a piece of Carrot cake. I took my photo of the largest Kiwi in New Zealand and headed of on my merry way to Masterton.

From here I am seriously struggling to remember the ride, I have looked at the cue sheets and the Classic New Zealand Cycle trails description and I have even googled images of Masterton but I am still drawing a blank on this section. I do remember at some point as I was getting close to the Rimutaka Cycle trail and then the cycle trail itself. The Trail started of a very nice single track but soon opened out to what you would expect of a Rail Trail, it was a nice gradient to climb and even with the mist the views were great. I enjoyed the climb up and the tunnels but the downhill was even better.


From here it was about 45km to Wellington via 30km’s on the Hutt River Trail , once at the flatter part of this I again called the Bluebridge and Interisland Ferry to try and get onto the 9pm sailing. I had been told by both companies earlier that this was a freight ferry and they don’t really let walk on passengers on board. I tried to explain that I am not a walk on I have a vehicle (considering you actually ride on with the cars) this was true. The Bluebridge said no they were now full and the Interislander was rather un-committal. At about half was a friend Mark Wallace came down to meet me and rode with me to Petone, thanks so much Mark the company was just what I needed and we discussed what to do about the Ferry and he reckoned I should just turn up at the Interislander and see what happens. Otherwise it meant waiting until a 2.30am sailing on the Bluebridge and it was only 7pm now, I was rather undecided and just about headed up to Jonathan Kennett’s house, but in the end I decided to take Mark's advice and I took my chances with the Ferry. Arriving at the Terminal the ticketing area was closed but one of the cleaners came out and told me to head down to the vehicle check in booth, I really can’t understand why it had not been able to book over the phone when I rang the first time much earlier in the day. The lady was very friendly and she instantly booked me on, once she had printed my ticket I asked her what time do I have to be here to get onto the Ferry, it was now 8pm and she said 8.15. Oh ……. I didn’t say this, I just thought it as I needed dinner and supplies for the next day, I had already searched for a Supermarket on my GPS so off I went. I rushed through bought something for dinner, don’t know what and supplies for the next day, then straight back to the Ferry Terminal making it there at 8.17pm and went straight onto the Ferry. I tied down my bike and took off all of the bags so I could re organise them over the next three hours and then found a comfy spot for the trip. It was pretty quiet on board as it was mainly a Freight Ferry full of trucks, I started unpacking and decided to dry my wet gear from Ashhurst
No body seemed to mind.
I pretty much occupied a whole seating area but it really didn’t matter. Even if there were more people I don’t think they would have wanted to sit next to me as it had now been three days without a shower.  I washed my clothes in the sink ate dinner and tried to sleep, it was a bit hard at first as it was a bit of a rough sailing but I fell asleep eventually, I maybe got about 90 minutes. It was a bit of a rush for the next half an hour to repack all my gear and head down to the vehicle deck to load up my bike. Once in Picton I went in search of somewhere to spend my next 2 hours to wait out my mandatory 6 hour break. I found the perfect spot, set my alarm for one and half hours and settled down for a sleep on the decks of the Pirate ship in the children’s playground. I heard the alarm this time, ate breakfast, Muesli, fruit and yogurt packed up my sleeping bag and it was back on the road sometime around 2.15am. I have ridden the Queen Charlotte sounds road quite a few times before due to riding the awesome Queen Charlotte track, I definitely need to get back up there to ride it again. When I got to Havelock I was so tired and I looked for somewhere to have a kip for 30 minutes or so but I didn’t find anything that I felt comfortable with so I carried on. I was so tired and eventually had to stop around 6am in what I thought was an old derelict building and jumped up to bed down for a much needed sleep. It was actually a small shearing shed still in use and it was just what I needed. I set my alarm for 30 minutes and instantly fell asleep, back on the bike and Pelorus Bridge was not too far now, a quick stop for water and Hotcross Buns and I headed up the valley. It was starting to warm up and daylight was on its way, so I stopped briefly to take off some clothes and saw a light coming from behind me. It was of course another TA rider, he told me that he had started from Pelorus Bridge that day and off he went. I soon set off but had to stop again for the call of nature and to take some more clothes off. I eventually caught back up to this rider on the Maungatapu Track and passed him but only to be passed by him again on one of the steeper sections as I had to walk. I was running a 1 x 11 speed setup with a 34t chainring up front, he had at least 2 x 10. It was hard to keep traction and my tired legs couldn’t turn the pedals anymore so I got off and walked. I stayed with him through this section and as soon as it eased just a bit I jumped back on the bike and we rode to the Maungatapu saddle together.
Scott Emmens at Maungatapu Saddle
There we met the other two riders that he had been riding with over the last couple of days, I knew one of them Scott Emmens and we talked a bit and he warned me of the downhill. It was pretty fast and rough, once the downhill was over it seemed like an awful long way out the Maitai Valley. Eventually I arrived at the I-site café in Nelson and decided that would do for Breakfast. I ordered French Toast and I was seriously disappointed upon it's arrival, it had cost me $19 and it was tiny. It was nice but it was defiantly not big enough for me right now nor on just a normal breakfast outing. Scott and company had arrived and what they ordered looked much heartier, they had obviously arranged to meet friends there and had quite a crew around the table. So I didn't hang around for too long and I headed of in search of supplies and a second breakfast. This came in the form of muffins and fruit from the Countdown Supermarket. More Muesli bars, fruit, muffins, savoury scrolls and chocolate for the rest of my day and I was just about off.  When a gentleman a bit older that myself stopped for a chat and my bike and setup, he was intrigued with what I was as he was an old school cycle tourer. Back on the road/cyclepath and I met another random cyclist who was in Nelson for a Hockey Tournament and we chatted for the next 5 km’s or so. I had some messages from friends that my tracker showed that I was in Wellington and they wondered what was going on. When I reached Wakefield I called Tony from Spot NZ to see what was going on. He suggested putting in some new batteries (I should have taken the spare set at the start that I said I don’t need) he said I need to buy Lithium ones or at least high drain alkaline batteries. I saw the price of 4 AAA lithium batteries and just about fell over, $38. The alkaline batteries were going to have to do and they did, I put them in and gave Tony a call and he ran me through a quick process and I was back on the tracking map. Scott Emmens and company rolled in as I was leaving and I said politely I hope I don’t see you again todayJ From here it I was soon onto a gravel road heading towards Dovedale it was nice and quiet and the shade of the tress in places was welcomed. Then it was out onto State Highway 6 and onto to Tapawera.

Old Stanly Brook School at the Junction to State Highway 6
I went into Tapawera for lunch and more supplies. Lunch was a toasted Panini in the local café and then to the four square for hotcross buns, fruit a pie and an Almond Magnum to consume then and there as the Panini was nice but not enough. Back down the road and onto the Tadmore Valley Road this was all a pretty un eventful section to Lake Rotoroa and I was feeling good and enjoying the riding. It was a bit later in the day when I arrived at the lake and I would have loved a swim but it wasn’t quite as hot as earlier in the day, So I took some great photos of the lake instead.
Lake Rotoroa
Lake Rotorao from the bridge across the Gowan River

From here it was a climb up and over the Braeburn Track, but once at the top it was pretty much downhill all the way to Murchison. First stop was again the local four square to stock up again as I was consuming a lot of food to keep the engine going. Next it was the local Hotel which I had been to before for a burger and chips and it was same again thanks. Whilst eating, there was a group of about 8 blokes on a blokes MTB trip and they had just ridden the Ghost road and thoroughly enjoyed it. A ride I have to get too soon along with the Heaphy. They were intrigued by what I was doing and when I left they said make sure you get some sleep as I had been on the road from Ashhurst with very little sleep. It was now around 8pm and I had started the day before at 5.30am, I did have my 6 hour break but maybe got a total of 3 hours sleep plus 30 minutes in the shearing shed. I guess I looked pretty wrecked but there was still time to ride. I was heading for Maruia Saddle, it was a nice ride and I passed a couple of TA riders held up for the night in the porch of an old house, I continued up to the saddle on the way up I could hear this noise and I wondered if there was some power station up here. when I got to a bridge the noise was seriously loud so I had a look at the river with my head torch. It was the Matakitaki River and it looked serious, there was a lot of water massive boulders and the river had some serious gradient. A friend told me later that he thinks a TA rider Ian Huntsman has paddled some of the upper section of this, crazy. Once at the saddle I attempted to take my mandatory photo and as you see it didn’t work out very well.

I decided to head down from here, I put on my rain jacket and buff for some warmth but I was pretty cold heading down to state highway 65, it was now around 11pm and I was pretty tired, I rode about 5km and then looked for somewhere to stay. I went down bit of a track which in the end was a driveway to a house. The house was empty but still in use, I considered sleeping on the porch but thought better of it and pitch my tent back up the driveway and off into the trees where I couldn’t be seen. It had been a massive day or so, from Ashhurst, well just about  two days really. 41 and ½ hours had passed with approximately 3-4 hours of sleep and 581 kilometres. I definitely felt that and it was straight to sleep. 

The Landing(Whanganui River) to Ashhurst, Day 5

In the morning a couple of riders rolled by as I was packing up my tent and gear it was about 6.30am, they had come from just a few kilometres before the bridge. Once packed I headed down to the actual Jet Boat landing and now there were 4 of us waiting for a pick up at 7.30am, the Macpac girls arrived and they soon got onto a Jet Boat that was sadly not the same company we had booked with. Two more riders arrived and we stood around waiting and chatting about bikes and our trip so far, one had come from the Blue duck stating at 3am, great effort.
The boat was now late which was a little bit frustrating, I just hoped that they did turn up soon rather than the normal scheduled time of 9am. To my pleasure the Jet boat arrived at about 8am and we loaded up the bikes were soon on our way.
There were 6 of us now on the boat so it wasn’t too cramped like my Kaipara crossing, it was a nice trip down the river and it actually reminded me of some of my racing trips to china except it was much cleaner. I have never really been on a Jet boat trip before (to tight fisted you see) and this was definitely a nice place to be doing my first. Once at Pipiriki at 9am we all paid the driver cash and headed off on our way, there was a bit of toing and throwing along this stretch to Jerusalem but eventually I found myself in no man’s land again. Once In Whanganui I went in search of a Subway and had a bacon and egg foot long with all the salads and a Mochachinno. Off to the supermarket to stock up on fruit, muesli bars, hot cross buns and peanut M and M’s. Back to the route across the Whanganui River and straight into the Tunnel to the Durie Hill elevator, it was quite strange riding the 100 metres or so to the Elevator. 
It was a bit of a shakey trip and it seriously reminded me of the Christchurch Earthquakes and the operator was actually on the phone talking to someone about servicing the elevator, none of this allowed me to relax really. Once at the top I was slightly relieved and took in the views before heading off on the next section to Hunterville

It must have pretty uneventful as I really don’t remember it apart from it being pretty hot. At Hunterville I got tempted by an ice cream sign so I went in for a real ice cream this time but the shop seemed to be taking it’s time serving the few people ahead of me so I reverted to the old faithful Almond Magnum. Before leaving Hunterville I went to the public toilets and washed my spare set of cycle clothes and hung them out on the bike to dry and I was on my way. It was 144km to Palmerston north and I didn’t really know where I would get to that night. Early on I remember going passed Vinegar Hill which seemed like a beautiful spot on the banks of possibly the first clean river I had seen in the North Island but I was not stopping here sadly. At Apiti I was hoping to get a warm we meal but that was not to be on a Sunday night at 7.30pm. I met Dane Roberts from wave two we had a bit of a chat and a muesli bar or two and we headed off together but we parted ways pretty quickly. He had asked about the Totara reserve and that is where he was planning to stop for the night. It was about 9.30pm and well and truly dark by the time I got there but it did looks like a nice spot but again it was too early to be stopping for me so into the night I went.
Another night time photo

At some point I met some other riders that where having a secret rendezvous with a friend that had brought them hot food, I would have loved some but they didn’t offer. I don’t know who they were and I didn’t say anything about this, I did ask the guy that if he knew of somewhere good to pitch my tent in Ashhurst and he gave me a suggestion of the sports ground. Once in Ashhurst I headed for the sports ground and the end of town and went in and had a look, there had been someone in a in the car park so I was slightly apprehensive. I checked the Map Progress site and saw that two riders were staying just down the road. I went there to check it out, it was a hotel and a worker was just leaving so I asked him about staying, he said it would be $80. Considering I was only planning to stop my mandatory 6 hours I thought better of it and headed back to the sports ground. It got really windy through the night and it rained which hampered my sleep a bit but I was really impressed with my light weight Intents tent that I bought for $89 on Trademe brand new. A bit of a restricted day due to the Jet Boat therefore it was about 14 hours of riding and 260km, I really needed to make up for lost time from here. I couldn't wait to get to the south Island as there were no more restrictions that were out of my control.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Mangakino to Mangapurua Landing (Whanganui River), Day 4

I had decided to give myself a bit more sleep in Mangakino so I set my alarm for 5am which was about 6 hours of potential sleep, I must of needed more as I never heard my alarm and woke up at 5.45am. I had bought 4 pieces of bread from the kitchen the night before and I now had the chance to use some of the Army ration pack, Jam and I also had small single serve Nutella so breakfast was not too bad all washed down with a Nescafe cappuccino sachet. I finally got out on to the bike, I am not sure what the time was exactly but it was still dark and I had to ride the 5km again back to where I left the route. Off the main road and onto quiet back country roads, after about 20kms I crossed a small swing bridge and onto an old 4wd track, this led onto some forestry roads and soon enough I was at the short track into the centre of the North Island.

Back out onto the Forestry roads for a while and just before entering the Timber trail I caught up to Brett Whiteley someone that I knew also doing the TA, a quick chat and I headed of on my merry way, maybe to merry on this downhill section as I flew past the entrance to the Timber Trail.
One of the many incredible suspension bridges on the Timber Trail
The Timber Trail was pretty well-groomed but I decided to let my tires down for the first time, the Tiber Trail was  80km long and I needed my bottom to last another couple of thousand kilometres yet. It was nice non technical ride really and generally climbed to the half way point and I was looking forward to the downhil. I was truly amazed at how much work had gone into the trail and it's suspension bridges good on you John Key for supporting the New Zealand Cycle Trail Network.

Just about at the end of the tail I passed a couple of recreational cyclist only to be passed again when I stopped out on the sealed road to  make a phone call to book the Jet boat down the Whanganui River at 7.30am the next morning. I rode into Taumarunui and I was looking forward to a Subway for lunch but it appeared there was none so it was back to the supermarket for lunch and supplies. I got my shopping done and was sitting outside eating lunch and in rolled a few more riders. Lunch was bread rolls with hot lasagne toppers (they were on special) stuffed inside and a couple of tomatoes. Along came two more riders and I asked if anyone wanted a block of chocolate as it was $3.50 for one or two for $5, I had a taker so in we went and I got my block of chocolate. The funny thing is that this story travelled through the TA and came back to me from my friend Steve. Hemet this rider somewhere down in the south island, Steve knows me well and when he heard about the two for $5 deal and a rider that did not want to pay $3.50 for one he instantly knew it was me (I am known for being ta bit tight fisted). From here it was out to the Bridge to Nowhere Trail which I had heard lots about from my good friend Marcel Hagener who had done the ride several times. It took quite a while to get out to the start of the Bridge to Nowhere Trail, it was about 70km from Taumarunui, and it generally climbed for the first 30km up to a height 500m then it was sort of downhill  until the start of the trail at the Blue Duck Café. No time for a coffee here as it was now late in the afternoon and I wanted to get in as much day light riding as possible. It had rained lightly a couple of times and the clay based 4wd track at the start was terrible, it was pretty hard to stay on the bike and keep traction to the rear wheel, this went on for a while and I wondered when it might change. Eventually it turned into a much nicer single track but the riding was still quite difficult. It was getting darker and darker and I finally turned on my lights, I was still trying to ride but I had to tell myself to be careful as the TA could easily finish here with a silly mistake. So I walked most parts of the track that got a bit more technical as it appeared there was quite a drop off to my left. I met the Macpac girls where the tack opened up again and it was now into a solid climb on very rideable train. My chain had been making not very nice noises up to here so I tried cleaning it, the best I could, it helped a bit but I had to clean it several times to get it back to normal. I got to the top but not without a few strange happenings where I would swear I heard voices just up ahead of name but I never came across anyone. I made it to the top and the downhill was a blast with my 1000 lumen dyno powered K-lite, and my 400 lumen Macro Duo Lezyne helmet light. Once the track started to flatten out it was about 10km to the landing, along the way there were several places with signs saying that cyclist must dismount, I did this for the first one but it was hardly worth it especially considering some of the riding towards the start where I considered the risk to be much greater. There were many more of these signs but I stayed on the bike for most of them. Battleship bluff just a few kilometres before the Bridge was pretty stunning even in the dark, ext was the Bridge to Nowhere, I took my photo (not a very good one as it was now 10pm)

It definitely seemed like nowhere at 10pm
I made it down to the landing which was a bit of a mistake as there is not much of a landing and not many places to pitch a tent. I managed to find a small spot between the board walk track and a bit of a cliff; bit of a dodgy spot but it had to do. That was another big days riding considering a lot of it was of road, 265km and about 17 hours in the saddle. The Bridge to nowhere track is something I would like to do again in daylight and ideally dry conditions, the single track that I didn't really get to ride towards the start seemed like it would be some great riding and I would like to truly appreciate the great scenery. I really hope I get that chance some day.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Rawene to Mangakino, Day 2 and 3

Once in Rawene all of the other riders went to the four square, I filled my bottles up with water and I was the first to leave as I was all stocked up with food to get me to Dargaville. I was pretty anxious about today as thee was the fey from Pouto Point at 6pm which I had no concerns on getting to in time but it was stated that they would only take 30 riders at a time and I had a lot of people in front of me from wave 1 and 2. The ride started of pretty flat following the Hokianga out to Opononi and Omapere out by the mouth of the Hokianga.
Some beautiful views and I was starting to pass people which was some relief as I had worked out form the Map Progress tracking site I needed to pass about 20 people before Pluto to get onto the boat. I rode pretty solidly climbing up into the Waipoua Forest and my photo destination on Tane Mahuta (Giant Kauri tree). I passed a few more before Tane and met Kate at Tane Mahuta whom I had met at Pukenui. She took my photo of Tane and I and I was quickly on my way.
A bit more climb and then a great down hill for quite some time, it had to come to an end and now it was onto a shingle road and one of the worst I have ever ridden on and it was actually the roughest of the whole journey to Bluff. Dargeville was about 40km from here on a mix of gravel and sealed roads, once in Dargaville it was straight to the supermarket for more muesli bars, bananas, muffins, peanut M and M's and lunch which was bread rolls, bier sticks and a tomatoes, A local teenager asked me where I had biked from and when I told him what I was doing he said cool and oh that's a long way. His parents came along and they were intrigued also, I asked them about the road down to Pouto Point it sounded pretty straight forward. Back to the route but fist I had to go to the post shop to send my chain and my passport to Christchurch, I ate my lunch outside and checked the tracker website. There were still quite a few riders in Dargeville and quite a few more not too far up the road so off I went in pursuit. It wasn't too long before I started passing some of the other riders to my pleasure, eventually the road turned into a forestry road and it started to undulate quite a bit it was pretty warm now in the early afternoon and it was hard work. I picked of a couple more riders and in the last 800m before Pouto Point I passed another. I put my helmet in the line up for the boat and I anxiously started to count, lucky me I was number 30 but as it tuned out they took 46 on our boat. It was now 4pm and the boat was due at 6pm, so I got my tent out to dry and then headed up to a small camp ground and hall where most other riders were hanging out. I had a shower and washed my clothes, ate a back country meal that I had been carrying for the last 350km, time to lighten the load. The boat arrived and we all lined up, there were now up to 40 riders and they were still coming some of the last were Andy Ross, Steve Cackle, Walter and Evan all from the same wave as me. It was great to see them make it and we now had about 46 riders, maybe the most on the boat throughout the TA?
It took at least 30minutes to load everyone on and it was pretty cosy on board, definitely no room for stretching out and sleeping like apparently the first riders from wave one did as there was only 16 of them. It was a calm trip and we got to experience a stunning sunset to lift our spirits. There was lots of chatting and banter which was very enjoyable and  we even got tea or coffee and biscuits as an unexpected treat.
The crew had also organised with the local takeaway to stay open and they called ahead our orders. I arranged with Makita a TA rider to pick up my burger for me as I planned to stay at the Parakai jetty to wait out the rest of my 6 hour rest. Everyone left and I was there alone for the next 30 minutes which gave men a chance to get ready for what lay ahead. I biked the 3km to the Helensville yacht club where most had gathered and were staying the night. I ate my burger and at about 10.45pm I got back onto the bike. It was a 50km undulating ride into central Auckland and then a maze of cycle paths though the CBD, it really seemed like I was going around in circles following the pink line on my GPS. I think I went over the Harbour bridge and then it was up to the top of Mount Eden and then on to South Auckland.
 It was actually a great time to be travelling through here as there was basically no traffic and I have since heard quite a few stories of riders having issues with motorists. It started to cool down now and I headed for the inland option to the Hauraki Rail Trail. This section was pretty tough for me due to the terrain and the lack of sleep, it was now 4 in the morning and the mind wanted to sleep. Looking back now at the profile of this ride it seriously seemed like I was climbing more than 120 metres at a time. There were many moments where I was momentarily sleeping on the bike, the sunrise helped to lift me a bit but when I arrived at Waitakururu and had to get off the bike I sat down at the public bus stop come toilets for a bit of a rest and some food to try and bring me back to life. Back on the bike for a 1km or so and the calling of the local dairy was to strong. A coffee, a bacon and egg pie and the most un interactive and un friendly service for the whole trip. I soon left there and turned on to the Hauraki Rail Trail a few kms down the road. I rolled into Paeroa and the trail pretty much finishes at McDonalds so in I went in but only for a Frappuccino my as it was pretty out there now. I filled water bottles and just relaxed for half an hour or so, the icy Frappuccino was just what I needed it had revived me quite a bit and now it was time to get back onto the trail. It was a pretty un eventful 60kms to Matamata and I made it to Matamata around 1.30pm, I took my photo of the I-site Hobbit House and then it was time for lunch, Subway today.
I sat down for about half an hour and read up on what lay ahead to Mangakino which was my planned destination for the night. It was about 92kms to Mangakino mainly on the Waikato river Trail. Next stop was the supermarket for supplies, it's really hard to make decisions sometimes but it was much of the same, muesli bars, fruit, muffins, savory scrolls water and another Almond Magnum. The ride out to the Waikato river trail was hot and when I reached the Trail I stopped and went for a swim, well actually two swims, the trail from here was pretty friendly until the Arapuni Dam where there was a fine Gentleman  cleaning chains for the TA riders. I took advantage of this and we had a bit of a chat about carbon bikes direct out of China as we were both riding one. From here the track got pretty tough and it only got tougher, with many very steep short pinches all the way to the end pretty much. I reached Magakino at about 8.15pm and reading the notes I misinterpreted them a bit and ended up riding the around the lake for about 6.5km this was still part of the course but it now meant I had to cycle another 5kms back into Mangakino. I was cursing my self at the time as I was pretty spent but in hindsight it was good to do this in daylight rather than in darkenss the next morning. I was seriously hoping I could find a real bed for the night and hot food as it was now getting close to 9pm. I had my Fingers crossed and  Thankfully I was in luck the Mangakino Hotel was open, I went in and asked how much and if the had a room, I don't no why I asked how much because there was no was I was spending the night in a tent the way I felt. The proprietors were very welcoming and generous, I ordered a fish and chips meal with a salad and went off for a shower. They even let TA riders bring there bikes into the rooms, awesome. I went out for my dinner and asked if the could wash and dry my clothes, this is not a service that they offer but they must have felt sorry for me the way I looked and did it pretty promptly, I just about felt sorry for myself. I was completely spent and I truly wondered how I was going to feel in the morning, this part of the journey started in Kohokohu at 6am the day before, I had ridden 175km to Pouto Point had my 6hr rest with no sleep and then rode a further 369km through the night. That was 39 hours in total, no sleep and 544km no wonder I felt the way I did.